Pajhwok Afghan News
Lawmakers today approved two articles of the draft Election Law, which underline that the votes should be counted in the voting stations not in the provincial poll centres.
Taliban militants captured Khowaja Kitni area in Qaisar district of Faryab province and forced the Afghan Local Police (ALP) forces to leave the area, said the ALP commander.
Chaired by President Karzai, the National Security Council (NSC) on Sunday said no foreign country would be allowed to influence the upcoming presidential and provincial council elections, scheduled to be held in May 2014. Meanwhile, the Interior Minister complained that he had been summoned 32 times by the Wolesi Jirga and 14 times by the Meshrano Jirga during the past year. Over the last four months, the minister said, MPs had inundated him with 15,200 applications.
President Hamid Karzai said that China as international power could play an effective role in facilitating the peace process in Afghanistan. In an interview with a Chinese TV channel Phoenix the president called reconciliation as Afghanistan’s crucial need and underlined Beijing’s role in this regard.
Ministry of Economy on Sunday banned 140 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for failing to abide by the prescribed rules and regulations, an official said.
A number of senators on Sunday criticized recent suggestions by the Wolesi Jirga’s members for holding provincial council elections ahead of the presidential poll.
Militants killed sixteen youth while harvesting opium poppies in southern Helmand province, said officials on Sunday.
Police on Sunday rescued an Iranian businessman from his captors and detained two alleged kidnappers in western Herat province.
An Afghan Local Police unit started its activities in Kamdesh district of Nuristan province.
Pakistan is constructing another border gate in Goshta district of Nangarhar province, said intelligence sources.
The Government sent a high-level delegation to Jalalabad to investigate corruption allegations against Governor Gul Agha Sherzai, said an official on Sunday.
Scores of girl athletes participated in a race against corruption in Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of northern Balkh province, on Sunday.
Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokesperson said that Afghan Foreign Affairs Minister Zalmai Rassoul, during his meeting with NATO’s foreign ministers on 23 April 2013 in Brussels, would declare Government’s official stance regarding the country’s long-term cooperation with NATO.
Provincial officials of Sar-e-Pul province said that for the first time a school was set on fire in Sozma Qala district. The officials added that they had detained the person who burned the school.
Sayed Tayeb Jawad, former Afghan ambassador to Washington, said that Afghanistan, over past 12 years, had experienced some successes and failures and it would also encounter a fragile and instable future, too.
The Interior Affairs Ministry called the recent report released by Afghanistan NGO Safety Office (ANSO) “untrue and baseless” which indicated that Taliban’s attacks increased by 47 per cent in first quarter of 2013 comparing same period in 2012. The Ministry also said that publishing of such reports misguides the public opinion in the country.
Private Media Editorials
Though, it has been proven that the Government could not take any destiny-making measure towards ensuring peace in the country, but another force should not follow past failed assumptions, programmes and activities. Unfortunately, the Lower House of Parliament has failed the test of the nation at the time when it could prove its efficiency and performance for consolidation of rule of law in the country. Therefore, the house should think of its main responsibilities for establishment of good and transparent governance and should avoid ups and downs in Government’s executive pillar instead of drawing hasty plans. If the house really has a plan for ensuring peace and security in Afghanistan, then there is no need for establishment of a join commission in this regard. The plan would enjoy legal credibility through the house after it is consulted with political parties, civil society institutions and the people.
The Daily doubted sincerity of US troops to root-out the remaining of the Taliban and other insurgents and linked it to the continuation of their presence in Afghanistan. [Pointing to the beginnings of the US military operations in Afghanistan] the Daily says that the during weeks the US was able to create an environment that one couldn’t believe the Taliban ever had presence in the country, however today the Taliban’s return seems not impossible. Now the Taliban changed to dangerous group and they demand for privileges and extortions. The Taliban themselves are unaware that they are the reason for continuation of Americans in Afghanistan and the region. They think that their fight is for Islam and ruling of Islamic values, however they don’t know they have changed to puppets of foreigners and they are misused. Therefore, a need for the continuation of US presence in Afghanistan is linked to insecurities, conflicts, suicide attacks and explosions. If insurgents’ bases and their sources of financing and training and their safe havens, which are based outside our borders [in Pakistan], destroyed, there will be no excuse for the long-term presence of the US and allies in Afghanistan.
Criticizing the High Peace Council, the Lower House of Parliament has decided to form a new committee for the acceleration of peace process. Lawmakers selected MP Sayed Ishaq Gailani to lead the committee. Gailani, during his interview with VOA Radio Ashna, blamed the US and Britain of holding secret talks with the Taliban and stressed that they [US and Britain] would be asked for clarification. He also emphasized on bringing changes in the Peace Council’s structures and performances for enhancing its efficiency. The peace council has never met people’s expectations not only because of its weakness and failures but also some other factors, including foreign attempts to set public mentalities against the peace body. They wanted the deviation of peace talks into branches and to change political tools on the hands of partial circles. It’s beneficial that the High Peace Council should be changed to a national centre that could hold talks with the militants. Those who want security, unity and no foreign influence in the country should join the “weak” peace council and strengthen the activities of the body with their effective advice. The High Peace Council is a joint Jirga and pride of the nation. If we all support the council then nobody can claim that it’s monopolized by the government and even the council can be changed to a stronghold for the rescue of the country.
AFGHAN TV NEWS
Tolo TV Headlines
The mounting number of casualties of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) is a matter of concern. The Ministry of Defence did not give exact number of national army casualties, however confirmed an increase in the number of casualties comparing to last year and said it was due to increasing responsibilities and engagement of the national army in combats. Currently, ANSF lead over 90 per cent of operations and would lead all operations in two months, MoD said. The Interior Ministry also said that roadside bombs and an increase in the responsibilities of ANSF had caused further casualties to local troops. “Police took more responsibilities to ensure the security of the provinces and during the month of Hamal (21 March till 21 April) some 124 police were martyred,” said Interior Ministry spokesperson.
On Sunday, over 50 school girls were [apparently] poisoned at a girl’s high school, Bibi Maryam, in Taluqan the provincial centre Takhar. The provincial health director confirmed the incident and said that it was not clear whether it was caused by poisoning or the student's psychological status. According to the local officials the hospitalized students showed symptoms of vomiting, unconsciousness and shrieking. “The initial reports from Takhar indicate that the students were poisoned,” said Health Ministry spokesperson. The Ministry of Education rejected the role of the anti-government elements and said the incident may have caused due to weather or environment pollutions. The families of the victims said if such incidents happened again they would not allow their children to go to schools.
Afghan Government never fixed any deadlines for signing security pact with the United States and if it’s signed, it will only be executable in 2015, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday. “No deadline has been fixed for getting in to the security pact with the US. It’s very important for the government to sign a long-term pact that can assure national interests of both nations,” Foreign Ministry Spokesperson.
On Sunday, a suicide attack in the Janikhel district of Paktika killed three civilians and injured seven others including two police, said the provincial governor spokesperson.
Taliban militants attacked a local police check post in the Deh Yak district of Ghazni and killed all the six policemen present in the post, said the district governor.
The Deputy US Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, David Pearce, had begun his official visit of the two countries from Islamabad. The US envoy in his trip to Islamabad, Kabul, Brussels and Almaty would try to seek support for the restoration of peace and stability, said the US Department of State.
Those parliamentarians who were involved in corruption must be identified and should be introduced to the judicial organs, said the head of Senate's Complaints Commission Zalmai Zabuli on Sunday. Meanwhile, some MPs said that both houses of the parliament must initiate serious campaign against corruption.
1 TV Headlines
Provincial health officials of Takhar province said that nearly 54 schoolgirls of Bibi Maryam High School were hospitalized Sunday morning due to possible gas poisoning in the school. In the meantime, some families of the students warned that they would prevent their daughters from going to school if threats continued against schoolgirls in the province.
Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokesperson said that Pakistan still had not removed the border gate erected in Goshta district in Nangarhar, adding that this move of Pakistan was not acceptable for the Afghan Government and the Government asked Pakistan to destroy the gate soon. He also said that the Afghan Government still did not have the exact figure about Afghan migrants imprisoned in Iran and about those Afghans prisoners put on death row by Iranian officials. He further added that a Supreme Court delegation would soon pay a visit to Iran to hold talks with Iranian judiciary officials about Afghan prisoners in Iran. The Ministry also announced that Afghan Foreign Minister would pay a visit to Brussels to attend a NATO meeting in Belgium in the near future.
Chairperson of the Herat Provincial Council criticized Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ continued assistance to armed militants in the province, adding that those militants, who recently joined the peace process, stated that they had received support and weapons from the Iranian guards.
District Chief of Imam Sahib of Kunduz province said that recently the number of Tajikistani and Uzbekistani nationals, who helped insurgents in making landmines, had increased in the district.
A policeman insulted a reporter of 1 TV and smashed the windows of his car and his equipment in Takhar province. In the meantime, officials of Nai Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan, head of Journalist Union of Takhar and some provincial reporters asked President Karzai and the Interior Affairs Ministry to take proper measures regarding the safety of journalists in the province.
Haji Mohammad Almas Zahid, a sitting MP and former jihadi commander, called the report recently published against him in some of Afghan print media “baseless”. Some of media have recently reported that General John Allen in his letter to President Karzai mentioned that Almas Zahid was passing the money coming from US contracts, to armed militants. Zahid said that foreigners, by such actions, wanted to defame prominent Afghan figures and said that he was ready to discuss the issue with US officials in a debate in Afghanistan or in any country.
On the occasion of Earth Day on 22 April, officials of the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) and representatives of civil society institutions asked the people to do their utmost to keep the country clean.
Shamshad TV Headlines
Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokesperson said that the capital punishment handed down to Afghan prisoners in Iran changed to life imprisonment. He further added that a Supreme Court delegation would soon pay a visit to Iran to hold talks with Iranian judiciary officials about Afghan prisoners in Iran.
Chairperson of the Herat Provincial Council expressed concern over increased rate of unemployment in the province, saying that, last year, over 5,000 individuals lost their official jobs in the province.
Some senators claimed that a number of MPs exchanged their vote of confidence to some impeached Cabinet Ministers with money. The senators said that the corrupt MPs should be prosecuted in order to protect the prestige of the Parliament.
On Sunday, the Public Health Ministry launched a three-day polio vaccination campaign throughout the country. It is said that the campaign would target 8.2 million children in the country.
Residents of Nangarhar province continued their demonstration against the Nangarhar Governor for the second consecutive day.